Felony theft occurs when the item’s value exceeds a certain amount defined by state law, which is generally between $1,000 and $2,500—a figure referred to as the felony-theft threshold—and is classified as such by the courts. (Because certain states have lagged behind inflation, taking a $500 item may be considered a felony in some jurisdictions.)
The value of the property stolen determines the severity of the punishment for most theft and larceny offenses. State laws typically establish a monetary cut-off point (also known as a threshold) that divides felonies from misdemeanors to differentiate between them. However, other circumstances, such as the sort of item stolen, can also elevate a theft to the level of a felony, regardless of the amount involved.
“Theft” is a general term that refers to any crime that involves taking someone else’s property to deprive that person of ownership of that item.
How felony theft and larceny crimes are labeled and defined varies significantly from state to state. Some jurisdictions have theft laws related to specific types of theft, such as theft by unlawful taking, theft by trick, and theft by deception. Others use more traditional terminology such as theft, embezzlement, shoplifting, receiving stolen property, and theft to describe their actions. Most states have recently adopted a unified definition and criminalization of theft, eliminating the need for separate classifications or labeling for different crimes.
Some theft accusations in Pennsylvania are classified as felony offenses, according to the Pennsylvania State Police. Others are charged with misdemeanor offenses. All theft charges have the potential to result in catastrophic repercussions. An offender may risk jail time, fines, and a criminal record, which can negatively influence their ability to find work and other opportunities.
Understanding whether a charge is a felony or a misdemeanor will assist you in deciding how to defend yourself against the charges. Our criminal defense attorney team explains the theft charges.
What is the minimum amount of theft that constitutes a felony?
Theft of more than $2,000.00 is considered felony theft. A felony charge will be filed against the offender if the value of the property taken is $2,000.00 or more in value. If the offense occurs while driving, boating, or flying a plane, the offense is classified as a felonious offense. In Pennsylvania, a third-degree felony theft is punished by up to seven years in jail and a fine of $15,000, depending on the circumstances.
Theft in the First Degree is a felony offense.
The most severe stealing offenses are charged as first-degree felonies, which are the most serious crimes a person can commit. This is one of the most serious offenses that may be charged in Texas (second only to capital felonies). If a person is found guilty, the court has the authority to sentence them to anywhere from 5 to 99 years in jail. It also can impose a fine of up to $10,000.
The only case in which felony theft is considered a first-degree felony is when the property involved is worth $300,000 or more, according to the statute.
To be charged with a theft offense – regardless of whether the conduct is classified as felonious or misdemeanor – may be a terrifying experience. A conviction can have significant ramifications, including incarceration or penalties, a tarnished reputation, and strained personal and professional relationships resulting from the sentence.
Theft in the Second Degree is a felony offense.
A conviction for a second-degree felony can result in imprisonment for up to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000 if the crime is severe enough.
Theft is classified as a second-degree felony in two situations: (1) when the victim is a minor; and (2) when the victim is an adult.
In either case, the property was worth at least $150,000 and less than $300,000.
The asset in question was an ATM or one of its contents or components.
Theft in the Third Degree is a felony offense.
When accused of a third-degree felony, theft can result in a jail sentence of two to ten years in prison. Additionally, a fine of up to $10,000 may be imposed. Theft becomes a third-degree crime when the following happens to the property:
Does not have a market value greater than $30,000 but less than $150,000;
a controlled substance seized from a business structure or vehicle owned or operated by a producer or distributor who has obtained authorization to do so; or
What Are the Penalties for Felony Theft in the United States?
The penalties associated with a felony theft conviction are more severe than those associated with a misdemeanor theft conviction. Felonies are typically defined as crimes that carry a potential punishment of one year or more in jail and a fine of $2,000 or more, and other penalties. While felony convictions can result in hefty sentences, they can vary significantly depending on the state and circumstances of each case.
Prison terms for felony theft can extend for several years, while the length of the sentence varies substantially depending on the circumstances. Depending on the severity level of the offense, a first-time offender could face a prison sentence ranging from six months to two or three years. However, a court could choose not to impose any jail time in some cases. For repeat offenders or those convicted of the most severe felony-theft offenses, prison penalties might range from a few years to several decades or more in jail.
Convictions for felony theft may also result in significant fines if the crime is prosecuted in court. Depending on the circumstances, a single conviction can result in a fine as low as $1,000 or $2,000 or as much as $150,000.
In addition to any fines imposed, courts often order a convicted defendant to pay restitution. Restitution is money provided to the property owner to reimburse them for the loss.
Someone convicted of felony theft may be sentenced to probation in addition to, or instead of, fines and jail time, depending on the circumstances. Probation is when a court orders that you follow specific rules and regulations for a specified period, which is often 12 months or longer. Probation terms vary but typically include restrictions such as meeting with a probation officer regularly, holding a job, paying any due child support, refraining from associating with known criminals, and not breaking any more laws than are required.
If you breach any probationary conditions, the court can lengthen your probationary sentence or revoke it entirely. Depending on the circumstances, a court may order you to serve a prison sentence, request you to pay an additional fine, or impose other punishments.
Consult with a legal professional.
Felony theft accusations are pretty severe, and anyone who is facing them should always consult with a criminal defense counsel as soon as possible after being arrested. A felony theft conviction can result in not just criminal consequences. Still, it can also make it more difficult (if not impossible) to get employment, housing, or obtain a loan in the future. When someone is charged with felony theft, even if they do not have a criminal record and are convinced that they did nothing wrong, their lives might be wrecked. A local criminal defense attorney can assist you in navigating the criminal justice system and defending your constitutional rights.